Whether you want to keep up with the latest trends or are fond of silver jewellery in general, buying and wearing silver jewellery is always fun. However, most of us at one point or another have complained about our tarnished silver, the blackish buildup that turns our favourite shiny accessory into a lacklustre piece of metal. For most people, the hard part is in trying to keep the jewellery looking as good as when you first bought it. Even though it sounds dreadful and daunting, it’s actually quite convenient and easy to clean silver at home. With a little bit of care and attention from your side and the right polishing tools and silver cleaners, your silver jewellery can look new and lustrous and last a lifetime.
Know Your Silver
Even before you begin thinking about silver cleaners, you must know what type of silver is used in your jewellery. Pure silver jewellery or Sterling Silver as it is popularly known and used in all the fourseven jewellery, is usually 92.5% pure. Compared to pure 100% pure silver (which is highly reactive and cannot be used for daily purposes), Sterling Silver can remain as good as new with occasional polishing and preventive care. The 7.25% of copper element added to sterling silver, makes the alloy sturdier and stable, thus making it much easier to clean silver at home.
All Bout Tarnished Silver
Tarnishing or oxidation of jewellery is caused when sterling silver is exposed to oxygen or sulfur compounds due to contact with air, excessive heat, moisture and pollutants. Oxidised or tarnished silver jewellery looks dull and sometimes turns a dark, blackish colour. Tarnished silver must not be confused with artistically oxidised silver jewellery. Sometimes jewellery is deliberately oxidised to give it an ‘antique silver jewellery’ look and to highlight certain areas of the jewellery for greater visual impact. When you clean silver jewellery at home, remember how it looked when you first purchased it so you don’t accidentally clean away the parts that were purposely oxidised by the designer.
To Wear Or Not to Wear
You can’t hide your silver jewellery away so you can protect it from damage- after all, you spent all that money just so you could wear it (and not look from afar) right? The interesting thing is wearing your silver jewellery regularly can actually help keep it shiny for longer! The natural oils from the skin, help protect and clean the silver jewellery. That doesn’t mean that you wear it all day, every day!
Certain activities and elements like strong chemicals (nail polish, alcohol, perfumes etc.), sulfur, sweat, chlorine and harsh sunlight can erode and tarnish your silver over time, so avoid wearing silver jewellery while:
- Household chores like cooking, cleaning, dishwashing and bathing. Even though pure water doesn’t damage silver, most of the water we come in contact with regularly is far from pure and the chemicals in it can easily react with silver.
- In swimming pools, sunbathing, hot tubs or hot springs. Chlorine and natural sulfur found in such places can be detrimental to the shine of the jewellery, and excessive heat from bathing in hot tubs or while sunbathing can accelerate the chemical reaction.
- While getting ready. Chemicals in lotions and perfumes can lead to tarnished silver.
- Exercising, sports or other activities that cause excessive sweating or movements. Movements during sleep can also cause scratches!
Once in a while if you forget to remove your jewellery before such activities, make sure to rinse, clean and dry it completely later.
How to Store Your Silver Jewellery- Prevention is Better Than Cure
Leaving your jewellery in open jewellery chests, on your nightstand or just tossed in your purse can cause oxidation due to air exposure. Proper storage can prevent a great deal of damage to your jewellery, maintaining the brilliant shine for longer.
- Keep your silver in air-tight bags like ziplock packets or good quality and scratch proof cloth pouches made from silk, satin etc. Some cloth pouches also have anti-tarnish properties so try to get those if you can.
- Store your jewellery in cool and dry places– definitely not the bathroom cabinet! Adding a silica gel packet to your storage will add an extra layer of protection by keeping moisture at bay.
- Don’t toss multiple pieces of jewellery in a single packet. Bunching your jewellery together can create tangling and excessive scratches and could also break your delicate pieces. Also, remember to unclasp and unhook all your jewellery to avoid scratching.
Polishing Silver Jewellery at Home
Our dainty silver jewellery can lose shine despite our best preventive efforts. Fret not! Its super easy and cost-effective (might I add) to clean silver jewellery at home.
- A gentle rub-down with a microfiber or professional jewellery polishing cloth occasionally is good enough to polish your silver jewellery. Maintain upward and downward strokes- don’t rub in circular motions as it can make the tarnishing worse. Use different parts of the cloth to prevent the transferring of tarnish from one area to another. Avoid polishing the parts that have been deliberately oxidised for impact.
- For really small pieces like stud earrings, use a Q-tip or earbud to gently remove surface dirt.
Clean Silver at Home
The widely accepted practice of using toothpaste to clean silver at home is quite misleading. While it does make it look clean and shiny for once, toothpaste is really abrasive and can do more harm than good to your precious silver pieces. Same goes for store-bought dips and solutions that promise squeaky cleanliness but eventually alter the chemical composition, changing the colour and shine of the jewellery completely. Homemade and natural is best- it’s easy to access and cheap and also non-abrasive, unlike the chemical dips.
DIY Silver Cleaner:
- Warm water and Baking Soda- Make a solution with 2 parts warm water (not hot) to 1 part baking soda in an aluminium pan and dip your jewellery in the mixture for a few minutes. Use your fingers or an old toothbrush with soft bristles to gently rub away the tarnish. Rinse and dry with a polishing cloth.
- Salt Water and Baking Soda– Place your jewellery in an aluminium container and pour a solution of 1 cup warm water with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon baking soda. Add ½ cup vinegar for greater shine. Let this sit for about 10 minutes (you will see some bubbles on the surface). Rinse in cool water and dry with polishing cloth.
- Soap and Water– For surface dust and dirt, you could use mild soap and water- anything you would use on your face or body. Rub gently, rinse with cool water and dry.
We don’t advise using such solutions for silver jewellery with plating or encrusted with stones since they may react differently with these solutions. We have also mentioned specific cleaning instructions for all fourseven jewellery on our website which you can refer to. Heavily tarnished silver jewellery that hasn’t been cleaned or polished in a long time and has accumulated a greater build-up of dirt or tarnish, should be cleaned by a professional jeweller, for a more thorough cleanse.
Any fine jewellery needs proper care and maintenance to retain its beauty. Your stunning sterling silver can remain lustrous for generations if you follow these easy tips and tricks that you can regularly practice at home.
At fourseven, we understand the sentimental as well as the aesthetic value of priceless and timeless pieces and therefore we make sure to carefully hand wrap our jewellery with love in eco-friendly cloth pouches which you can use for storage. We also provide a professional polishing cloth with our special order jewellery boxes, so that you can easily clean silver at home and cherish your jewellery for ages.